Spring 2022

South African Writing after Apartheid
AFST 015 (TTH 1:00p-2:15p)
Instructor: Stephanie Newell
An introduction to creative writing published in South Africa from the end of Apartheid in 1994 to the present. Close readings of contemporary fiction with additional material drawn from popular culture, including films, magazines, and music.

Egyptian Religion through the Ages
AFST 112 (TTH 2:30p-3:45p)
Instructor: John Darnell
Diachronic approach to topics in Egyptian religion. Religious architecture, evidence for protodynastic cults, foreigners in Egyptian religious celebrations, music and vocal expression in Egyptian religion, Re and Osiris, the Amarna interlude and the Ramesside solar religion, and the goddess of the eye of the sun. Readings in translation.

Media and Conflict
AFST 135 (1:30p-3:20p)
Instructor: Graeme Wood
The theory and practice of reporting on international conflict and war, and its relation to political discourse in the United States and abroad. Materials include case studies of media coverage of war in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

African Migration and Diaspora
AFST 160/510 (9:25 -11:15 am)
Instructor: Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen
This course explores how history, culture, and power shape our conceptualization of the world and its peoples. By critically examining how social categories—such as culture, religion, race, economy, and ideology—have been mapped onto different parts of the world, the course traces how legacies of colonialism and imperialism in Africa continue to inform contemporary perspectives of economic development, geopolitics, and globalization. Students consider the history of world categorizations through the perspectives of the people who mobilized to transform them, from anti-colonial fighters and postcolonial scholars to the Third World solidarity movement and contemporary African activists and artists. 

Nigeria and Its Diaspora
AFST 180/680 (TTH 1-2:15p)
Instructor: Oluseye Adesola
Nigerians in the modern diaspora, both those who endured forced migration and those who migrated voluntarily. Specific reference to the Igbos and the Yorùbás. The preservation and maintenance of Nigerian culture, history, dance, literature, traditional education, theater, politics, art, music, film, religion, and folklore, especially in African American and Nigerian American contexts.

Social Dimensions of Evolution in Africa
AFST 200 (W 1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Veronica Waweru
This course examines symbolism, colonialism, poverty, media, literacy, and religion as agencies that distance the ‘humanity cradle’ status of Africa from nationalist and identity discourses.

Modern North Africa in Flux
AFST 304 (TTh 1:30 -3:20p)
Instructor: Vish Sakthivel
This advanced course overviews the politics, culture, and society of contemporary North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and to a degree, Libya and Mauritania. We will consider phenomena such as: colonialism, anti-colonial struggles, and the creation of Maghreb states; independence, nation-building and early nationalism; the consolidation of authoritarianism and state power; modern authoritarian politics; language and identity politics; civil war; democratization and civil society; social movements, mobilization and the 2010-11 Arab Uprisings; the Western Sahara stalemate and the refugee situation; Blackness, Arabness, and the ‘Africa question’; Islamism and the politics of religion; and the dynamics of foreign intervention. The course will explore political scientific approaches that focus on the systemic nature of power and role of institutions, while also challenging normative assumptions of what counts as “politics” by drawing out the linkages between visible/formalized politics and the informal/unseen/cultural arenas. To do so, it will emphasize interpretivist approaches to politics that highlight the intersubjective, conflictual, and contradictory ways they are experienced by localities, communities, and people, with an eye to context and process. This interdisciplinary course will interest students of Middle East/African area studies, anthropology, history, political science, diplomacy/global affairs, religion, and race/gender studies.

Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade
AFST 340
Instructor: Varies by Section
Examination of the tumultuous changes experienced by African societies during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, approximately 1450–1850. Focus on the complex interaction between the internal dynamics of African societies and the impact of outside forces.

Revolutions and Socialist Experiments in Africa
AFST 396(M 1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Benedito Machava
This seminar explores the contours of Africa’s embrace and engagement with the most influential ideology of the twentieth-century. Why, and through which channels, were Africans attracted to socialism? Did particular forms of colonialism and decolonization push African political actors towards revolution and socialist experiments? Is it legitimate, as some scholars have suggested, to speak of genuinely African socialisms? If so, what was the nature of these socialisms and how did they differ from the versions of socialism around the world? What political, social, economic, and cultural ends did socialism serve in Africa? And what were the consequences and legacies of African socialist experiments? The seminar addresses these questions. Our goal is to place Africa in the mainstream of conversations about socialism. We begin with the assumption that, like any doctrine, socialism was the object of multiple interpretations, modification, and appropriation from its inception. In so doing, we challenge orthodox understandings of socialism, which hold the European versions as the pure models and the rest as diluted if not populist façades of the ‘true’ doctrine. We begin with theoretical readings that help us situate the major debates about socialism in general and socialism in Africa. We then proceed to examine the overall historical context in which African nationalists adopted socialism. We differentiate the first branch of “African Socialism” from the second wave of “Afro-Marxism.” We also pay close attention to issues of decolonization and political imagination; ideas and experiments of development; gender, morality, and social engineering. 

Postcolonial Theory and Literature
AFST 412 (W 1:30 -3:20p)
Instructor: Fadila Habchi
A survey of the principal modes of thought that have animated decolonization and life after colonialism, as seen in both theoretical and literary texts. Concentration on the British and French imperial and postcolonial contexts. Readings in negritude, orientalism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and novels.

Afterlives of Algeria’s Revolution
AFST 414 (W 1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Jill Jarvis
Algeria’s War for Independence from French colonial occupation was the longest and most violent decolonizing war of the 20th century. This war and its aftermath transformed political, social, intellectual, and artistic life on both sides of the Mediterranean and beyond. It has stood as a beacon for decolonizing and civil rights movements across the Global South. Memory of this anticolonial war continues to shape debates and movements that address issues of police violence, state sponsored terror, structural racism, censorship, collective memory, global feminism, human rights, and nuclear imperialism. Through study of works of fiction, film, testimony, graphic narrative, theater, music and street performance, we chart this war’s surprising and enduring legacies, and we learn to recognize the ways that this conflict continues to shape our present. Films may include Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers as well as Bensmaïl’s documentary about this iconic film; Panijel’s Octobre à Paris; Salem’s L’oranais; Leuvrey’s At(h)ome. Literary works by Djebar, Camus, Sebbar, Etcherelli, Dib, Cixous, Kateb, Fanon, Halimi, Mechakra, and others.

North African French Poetry
AFST 425 (M 9:25a - 11:15a)
Instructor: Thomas Connolly
Introduction to North African poetry composed in French during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Works explored within the broader context of metropolitan French, Arabic, and Berber cultures; juxtaposition with other modes of expression including oral poetry, painting, dance, music, the Internet, and film. The literary, aesthetic, political, religious, and philosophical significance of poetic discourse.

Challenges to Realism in Contemporary African Fiction
AFST 449(TH 9:25a -11:15a)
Instructor: Stephanie Newell
Introduction to experimental African novels that challenge realist and documentary modes of representation. Topics include mythology, gender subversion, politics, the city, migration, and the self. Ways of reading African and postcolonial literature through the lenses of identity, history, and nation.

Racial Republic: African Diasporic Literature and Culture in Postcolonial France
AFST 457 (W 3:30 – 5:20p)
Instructor: Fadila Habchi
This is an interdisciplinary seminar on French cultural history from the 1930s to the present. We focus on issues concerning race and gender in the context of colonialism, postcolonialism, and migration. The course investigates how the silencing of colonial history has been made possible culturally and ideologically, and how this silencing has in turn been central to the reorganizing of French culture and society from the period of decolonization to the present. We ask how racial regimes and spaces have been constructed in French colonial discourses and how these constructions have evolved in postcolonial France. We examine postcolonial African diasporic literary writings, films, and other cultural productions that have explored the complex relations between race, colonialism, historical silences, republican universalism, and color-blindness. Topics include the 1931 Colonial Exposition, Black Paris, decolonization, universalism, the Trente Glorieuses, the Paris massacre of 1961, anti-racist movements, the “beur” author, memory, the 2005 riots, and contemporary afro-feminist and decolonial movements.

Infrastructures of Empire: Control and (In)security in the Global South
AFST 465/565 (T 1:30p-3:20p)
Instructor: Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen
This advanced seminar examines the role that infrastructure plays in producing uneven geographies of power historically and in the “colonial present” (Gregory 2006). After defining terms and exploring the ways that infrastructure has been conceptualized and studied, we analyze how different types of infrastructure (energy, roads, people, and so on) constitute the material and social world of empire. At the same time, infrastructure is not an uncontested arena: it often serves as a key site of political struggle or even enters the fray as an unruly actor itself, thus conditioning possibilities for anti-imperial and decolonial practice. The geographic focus of this course is the African continent, but we explore comparative cases in other regions of the majority and minority world.

African Systems of Thought
AFST 486 (M 1:30 -3:20p)
Instructor: Nana Osei Quarshie
This seminar explores the effects of colonialism and post-colonial power relations on the production of scientific, medical, and embodied knowledge about Africa. The course focuses on three broad themes covered across four units. First, we read debates over the nature and definition of science and tradition. How have colonialism and post-colonial power relations defined the tasks of an African science? What does it mean to decolonize African thought or culture? Second, we examine the nature of rationality. Is reason singular or plural? Culturally-bound or universal? To what extent are witchcraft, African healing practices, and ancestor veneration rational practices? Is there a “traditional” rationality? Third, we explore the relationship between scientific representations, social practices, and local culture. What relationship exists between social practices and culturally shared categories of knowledge? Lastly, we examine the intersection of capital and medical expertise. How have shifting conceptions of value and capital, reshaped scientific and medical authority in Africa?

Africa, Politics, Anthropology
AFST 639 (W 1:30 -3:20p)
Instructor: Louisa Lombard
A historical-anthropological study of politics in Africa. How have anthropologists made sense of the workings of African politics, both those of state and nonstate actors? This course charts how African states came into being, how they operate, and how state agents and the people they govern negotiate legitimacy, authority, and belonging.

Agrarian History of Africa
AFST 833 (W 9:25 -11:15a)
Instructor: Robert Harms
This course examines changes in African rural life from precolonial times to the present. Issues to be examined include land use systems, rural modes of production, gender roles, markets and trade, the impact of colonialism, cash cropping, rural-urban migration, and development schemes.

On Violence: Politics and Aesthetics across the Maghreb
AFST 965 (M 3:30 -5:20p)
Instructor: Jill Jarvis
This humanities laboratory investigates North African literary texts and other aesthetic works that document, theorize, and disrupt forms of state violence. How might these works—as well as our practices as humanities scholars, critics, curators, co-creators—run counter to state-sanctioned memory projects or compel rethinking practices of testimony, archiving, and justice in the face of enduring colonial occupation, institutionalized racism, and the state-sponsored violence that continues to take place on scales or in forms that are difficult to frame or fathom? Works by Fanon, Djebar, Kateb, Mechakra, Meddeb, Rahmani, Mouride, Hawad, Binebine, and many others. The seminar is an RITM Humanities Laboratory designed to cultivate new forms of collaborative and experimental humanities scholarship. See Canvas page for a more complete description.

LANGUAGE COURSES

SWAH 120/620: Beginning Kiswahili II

MTWThF 9:25 a.m.-10:15 a.m.
Continuation of SWAH 110. Texts provide an introduction to the basic structure of Kiswahili and to the culture of the speakers of the language.

SWAH 140/640: Intermediate Kiswahili II
MTWThF 11:35 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
Continuation of SWAH 130.

SWAH 160/660: Advanced Kiswahili II
MW 11:35 a.m.-12:50 p.m.
Development of fluency through readings and discussions on contemporary issues in Kiswahili. Introduction to literary criticism in Kiswahili. Materials include Kiswahili oral literature, prose, poetry, and plays, as well as texts drawn from popular and political culture.

SWAH 171/671: Topics in Kiswahili Literature
TTh 11:35 a.m.-12:50 p.m.
Advanced readings and discussion with emphasis on literary and historical texts. Reading assignments include materials on Kiswahili poetry, Kiswahili dialects, and the history of the language.

TWI 120: Beginning Twi II
MTWTh 12:30 p.m.-1:20 p.m.
This course is a continuation of TWI 110 and continues to focus on the communicative approach to studying the language. It explores specific socio-cultural settings and events. Speaking, reading, writing, and listening continue to form an integral part of the course and students build on their grammatical skills. By the end of the course, learners are expected to reach proficiency level ranging between novice high and intermediate low.

TWI 140: Intermediate Twi Language Course II
MTWTh 9 a.m.-9:50 a.m.
This course expands on the language skills acquired from TWI 130 and continues to focus on the communicative approach to studying the language. It includes specific socio-cultural settings and events. Speaking, reading, writing, and listening continue to form an integral part of the course and students wil build on their grammatical skills. By the end of the course, learners are expected to reach proficiency level ranging between Intermediate high and Advanced low. 

WLOF 120: Elementary Wolof II
MTWTh 12:10 p.m.-1 p.m.
Continuation of WLOF 110. Further development of proficiency in the language through communicative methods and the use of authentic learning materials.

WLOF 140: Intermediate Wolof II
MW 2:10 p.m.-4 p.m.
This course will further your awareness and understanding of the Wolof language and culture, as well as improve your mastery of grammar, writing skills, and oral skills.  Course materials will incorporate various types of text including tales, cartoons, as well as multimedia such as films, videos, and audio recordings.

WLOF 160: Advanced Wolof II
TTh 2:10 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Continuation of WLOF 150 to further awareness and understanding of the Wolof language and culture, as well as  to improve mastery of grammar, writing skills, and oral expression. Course materials incorporate various types of text including tales, poetry, and literature, as well as multimedia such as films, and videos, television, and radio programs.

YORU 120/620: Beginning Yorùbá II
MTWThF 10:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
Continuing practice in using and recognizing tone through dialogues. More emphasis is placed on simple cultural texts and role playing.

YORU 140/640: Intermediate Yorùbá II
MTWThF 11:35 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
Students are exposed to more idiomatic use of the language in a variety of interactions, including occupational, social, religious, and educational. Cultural documents include literary and nonliterary texts.

YORU 160/660 Advanced Yorùbá I
MW 1 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
Continuing development of students’ aural and reading comprehension and speaking and writing skills, with emphasis on idiomatic usage and stylistic nuance. Study materials are selected to reflect research interests of the students.

YORU 181/682: Advanced Topics in Yorùbá Literature and Culture
TTh 2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Designed for students with superior proficiency in Yorùbá who have an interest in topics not otherwise covered by existing courses. Development of language proficiency to the level of an educated native speaker. Discussion of advanced readings on Yorùbá philosophy, history, literature, and culture.

ZULU 120/620: Beginning isiZulu II
MTWThF 11:35 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
Development of communication skills through dialogues and role play. Texts and songs are drawn from traditional and popular literature. Students research daily life in selected areas of South Africa.

ZULU 140/640: Intermediate isiZulu II
MTWThF 9:25 a.m.-10:15 a.m.
Students read longer texts from popular media as well as myths and folktales. Prepares students for initial research involving interaction with speakers of isiZulu in South Africa and for the study of oral and literary genres.

ZULU 160/660: Advanced isiZulu II
MW 2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Readings may include short stories, a novel, praise poetry, historical texts, or contemporary political speeches, depending on student interests. Study of issues of language policy and use in contemporary South Africa; introduction to the Soweto dialect of isiZulu. Students are prepared for extended research in South Africa involving interviews with isiZulu speakers.